Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro is calling on Elections Canada to wrap up its investigation of his 2008 campaign expenses, by either laying a charge or giving up its pursuit.
Mr. Del Mastro, the parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has been under investigation since March of 2011, in particular over whether he personally exceeded his campaign spending limit and, therefore, filed a false election return. Since then, Mr. Del Mastro has continued his role as parliamentary secretary but hasn’t attended certain committee meetings, pending the investigation.
The ongoing case was revealed by a Postmedia report last summer.
In an e-mail, dated March 12 this year and send from an Elections Canada investigator, Mr. Del Mastro's lawyer was told "the investigation is nearing completion" and will be "considered shortly" by Elections Canada's in-house lawyer. A month later, Mr. Del Mastro's lawyer was told something similar.
“Our investigation is virtually complete, although odds and ends can still be found to follow up,” Elections Canada Investigator Al Mathews wrote in an April 8 message. “The matter is going to the Commissioner for review and consideration now. I cannot predict how long that process will take.”
Nothing has happened since. With the House of Commons days away from its summer recess, Mr. Del Mastro – who has regularly insisted he’ll be exonerated – took to the airwaves Wednesday to urge Elections Canada to wrap things up. The agency should either lay a charge he can fight in court, or drop their investigation altogether, he told the CBC.
“I think they know – certainly, as I’ve always indicated – they know that I’ve done nothing wrong. But they’re also in a very difficult position, because there have been a number of things put out there. I think the right thing for them to do is drop it, to indicate publicly that they’re dropping it, and everyone can move on,” Mr. Del Mastro told the network Wednesday.
Questions have revolved around a $21,000 cheque written by Mr. Del Mastro to a research firm. That exceeds the personal limit and “facilitated the concealing and misreporting of election expenses and contributions,” an investigator said in one Elections Canada filing last year. But Mr. Del Mastro claims he was alter reimbursed by his campaign and his constituency association, and that the cheque therefore is within the rules.
“My campaign returns, as filed, are accurate. I stand behind them entirely. I’ve been patient because I’ve been waiting for Elections Canada to go through the evidence that I’ve provided. I’ve answered every question they’ve asked, provided every piece of evidence they’ve requested. I’ve had absolutely nothing to hide from them,” he said Wednesday.
An Elections Canada spokesman declined to discuss Mr. Del Mastro's case.
"The Commissioner of Canada Elections will not confirm or deny that a complaint has been received or that an investigation is underway," spokesman John Enright said.